The Second World War

  • Kim Coleman


At the beginning of the Second World War, the experience of the First World War gave most of the combatants the expectation that chemical warfare would be used to an even greater extent, despite the Geneva Protocol having been put into place in the inter-war period. Chemical warfare had resurfaced in 1937 in Abysinnia (Ethiopia) and in China, and it was clear that another great conflict was nearing and chemical weapons were expected to be used, both on the battlefield and against civilian populations. Certainly air raids and gas attacks were expected as soon as war broke out and the British government issued the entire civil population, including babies, with gas masks — some 30 million in total. Perhaps in response to the D-Day landings in June 1944, it was not until late autumn 1944 that Hitler intervened in the matter of gas masks and appointed a special commissioner directly responsible to him. With great haste a programme was set up to protect the entire German population from the effects of gas warfare. Although gas mask production rose to more than 2,300,000 per month, it was evident it would take a while before the entire urban population would be properly equipped.1 However, in Germany, since 1931 the Ministry of the Interior had been issuing guidelines for civil defence, and in 1932 the first release of the Vorläufige Ortsanweisung für den Luftschutz der Zivilbevölkerung was issued, which by the end of the war comprised 12 chapters with numerous comprehensive attachments.


Chemical Weapon Chemical Warfare Agent German Invasion Chlorine Trifluoride Geneva Protocol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, London: Phoenix (1995), p. 552.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    M. Sartori, ‘New Developments in the Chemistry of War Gases’, Chemical Review, 48 (1951), pp. 225–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 8.
    Stuart Laing (ed.), Hitler Diary 1917–1945, Marshall Cavendish (1980), p. 37.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    This figure was the British and American estimate. The Soviet estimate was 250,000 tons, See Jeremy Paxman and Richard Harris, A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story of Chemical Warfare, New York: Hill & Wang (1982).Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    Greg Goebbel, A History of Chemical Warfare 2 (1990), p. 4.Google Scholar
  6. 26.
    David Irvine, Hitler’s War, London (1977), p. 633.Google Scholar
  7. 31.
    Omar Bradley, A Soldiers Story, New York (1970), p. 237.Google Scholar
  8. 36.
    Sir John Dill, The Use of Gas in Home Defence, HMSO (1940).Google Scholar
  9. 40.
    H. Oschsner, History of German Chemical Warfare in World War II, Part 2, ‘The Military Aspect’, Historical Office of the Chief of the [US] Chemical Corps (1949). This quotation is from the review of German chemical warfare activities written in 1948 by General Oschsner, Commander-in-Chief of the German Chemical Corps, 1939–1945. This review is one of the most comprehensive published sources of information on German wartime chemical warfare activities. As source material it is open to criticism that it represents the view of one man only, however closely he was involved in the German chemical warfare programme. Nevertheless, this review was not written for open literature or international circulation. Indeed, it remained a restricted document for thirty years.Google Scholar
  10. 43.
    W.S. Churchill, The Hinge of Fate (The Second World War), Vol. 4, London (1951).Google Scholar
  11. 52.
    G. Aklexandrov, ‘Lessons of the Past are not to be Forgotten’, International Affairs, 2 (1969), pp. 76–78.Google Scholar
  12. 57.
    Lord Richie-Calder in Steven Rose (ed.), CBW: London Conference on CBW, London: George G. Harrap (1968), p. 14.Google Scholar
  13. 60.
    S.P. Lovell, Of Spies and Stratagems, New York (1963).Google Scholar
  14. 61.
    F.J. Brown, Chemical Warfare: A Study in Restraints, New Jersey: Princeton University Press (1968), pp. 74–75.Google Scholar
  15. 63.
    US Chemical Warfare Service, US Chemical Warfare Policy, Washington DC: Operations Division, War Department General Staff, Strategy and Policy Group (14 June 1945), Draft.Google Scholar
  16. 67.
    D. Irving, The Destruction of Dresden, London (1966)Google Scholar
  17. H.R. Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, London (1962 edn)Google Scholar
  18. Frederick Taylor, Dresden Tuesday 13 February 1945, Bloomsbury (2004)Google Scholar
  19. Anton Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends — The Evidence — The Truth, Arms & Armour Press (1996).Google Scholar
  20. 68.
    H. Klotz, Germany’s Secret Armaments, London (1934)Google Scholar
  21. H.F. Thuiller, Gas in the Next War, London (1939); See also, Bayerarchiv, Leverkusen, IG Farbenindustrie AG, Annual Reports (1934–1944).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kim Coleman 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kim Coleman

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations